INTRODUCING SAN JUAN
This is where the New World began, 500 years ago, when the conquistadors first set foot on land. No wonder San Juan is a fascinating melting pot of so many different cultures. Wander the compact old quarter, sample the unique cuisine, lie back on the beaches, and enjoy the parties. It’s always fiesta time in San Juan.
Old world meets new in this lively Latin American city.
Things to do
The region known as Old San Juan dates back to the Spanish colonial era, and is actually an island in itself. Wander the blue cobblestone streets and take snaps of the beautiful colonial buildings. The old city is surrounded by thick defensive walls and you’ll find historic forts here too.
San Juan’s history stretches back five centuries and as soon as you step out of your luxury hotel you’ll see lots of historic buildings dotted throughout the city. El Castillo San Felipe is a 16th-century citadel that is now a World Heritage Site. And don’t miss the cathedral, which is the last resting place of the explorer who ‘discovered’ Costa Rica, Juan Ponce de Leon.
They don’t do things by halves in San Juan. So it’s no surprise that the city is home to the Caribbean’s largest shopping mall, with more than 300 stores and exclusive boutiques. With world-class names like Macy’s and Sears, it’s like an American mall, but with the vibrant exuberance of Latin America.
If you want to look like you’re from round here, don’t ask for a piña colada. Opt instead for a chichaito – a mixture of rum and anise that’s very popular with the locals.
Top tip from SLH